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Reviews by jamiephelan

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1-4 of 4


Seeking Ataraxia, by Glass Rat Media

0 of 3 people found the following review helpful:
Shows promise, but broken., October 4, 2015
There is nothing more frustrating than for a game to break as soon as it gets your interest.

There is a logic loop in the "next day" screen after the second day, and you can't proceed.

I would have tried to contact the author but they don't provide an email address in their competition listing or even their own website.

Please test your games.

Emily is Away, by Kyle Seeley
The MSN Generation, October 3, 2015
Emily is Away is breathtaking. The author has managed to create a simulation of exactly what social interaction was like for teenagers and young adults in the 2000s- the exciting development of instant messaging created, for the first time, a world where we are constantly connected, taking the first steps towards our social-media oriented world today.

What better age to experience this exciting development than highschool? Anyone who grew up with ICQ, AIM or MSN messenger at this time in their lives know exactly what this game is trying to do. It incapsulates the confused angst of our late teen years, where for the first time, we realise, we have no idea who we are; the transition to 'adulthood' – leaving our past behind – and becoming our true selves. This is a game which relies on the user's nostalgia as its primary emotive device, and for someone who has this shared experience with the author, it works perfectly.

The game is completely based around IM chats you have with a school friend 'Emily', and uses a menu-choice system for user interaction. Usually these games suffer from a lack of immersion, forcing the user to go outside of their own decision-making to fit with what the author wants them to do. This is not the case with Emily is Away. The responses you can send emily are broad enough that your approach can vary wildly – mature, pining, jealous – and you can reflect your own personality onto the game.

This immersion is helped greatly by making the player able to put in their own (real or false) name and screenname. You feel like Emily is talking to you. You feel attached. You start to feel what the game's main character does, towards her.

Another brilliant mechanic the author has employed is the typing system. It takes a few minutes to get used to, but by having the user's input make the player character type, you feel like you're typing the words he is saying – even though you're just spamming the keyboard. This is extended to backspacing, and replacing your own typed words, just like we used to when we were talking on IM when we were overthinking what to say.

The only criticism I could give this game is that I was so enthralled by it that I want more story. I want to be able to talk to more than just one person. I think opening this game up to become a 'chat adventure' engine for other people to use to tell stories would be a great idea. Or at least give us a few sequels!

Reader, if you are of the MSN generation, I suggest you play this game, right now. Prepare for a not-always-comfortable trip down memory lane.

A Figure Met in a Shaded Wood, by Michael Thomét

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful:
Hypertext Will Eat Itself?, October 2, 2015
One expects a certain amount of linearity with Twine games, and A Figure Met in a Shaded Wood is no exception. The game itself is unique in that it attempts to justify this non-interactivity as a mechanic. Whether this is a high-brow metacomment on modern interactive hyperfiction, or just a way to make you think you're playing a game when you're really not, is a hard question to answer.

The story tells of a vagrant's venture through the woods, and an encounter with a mysterious tarot-card reader. The writing is captivating and flows well with the format. I found no difficulty in following the story, and the imagery was vivid in my mind.

One could argue that the symbolism of tarot is a bit of a cop-out. What easier metaphors are there for an author to take advantage of than the famed mystical cards?

I noticed a couple of logic errors. Certain actions were reflected upon that I made the choice not to do, and a non-existent racoon was mentioned.

The passages are repeated often when the player takes a different route, and again attempted to be justified by the "wheel of time" approach this game takes. I don't buy it.

Is A Figure Met in a Shaded Wood a comment on free will and fate, or is it an attempt at subverting the criticism that many choice-IF games recieve? The reader in me says the former, and the cynic in me says the latter. Either way, work of the depth to make me ask the question is worthy of some praise.

The Cabin, by D.B.T

7 of 7 people found the following review helpful:
Generic plot, terrible interface, and.... QBASIC?, October 1, 2015
This review will be written to the author as I'm going to try and be as constructive as possible.

Okay.

Great that you're getting into writing IF, it's such an awesome genre.

I'm going to start by saying that I had to install the qb64 compiler to get this game to run. The majority of people playing your game don't know what qbasic is, and linking them to the qb64 forum isn't a good starting point. If people don't know what to do to get your game working, they won't play it. Compile your game and upload it to a server, and link it with the "download link" button on IFDB.

Also, consider that a lot of people, especially in the IF community, aren't running Windows. Try and compile to a neutral format, or offer binaries for multiple operating systems. I had to compile qb64 to be able to compile your game to get it to run on my machine (linux).

I'd recommend you have a look at FreeBASIC as a multi-platform alternative, with more features. It is based on QBASIC.

QBASIC, or at least the engine you have written/used, is not really appropriate as a parser. It would be better to either use a proper interactive fiction parser language (eg. TADS or Inform), or write the game in more of a choose-your-own adventure style.

The plot was pretty cliched, but could be expanded on to make it more interesting. Don't spoon feed them the story, let them come to the conclusions you want them to come to.

The writing was poor with spelling mistakes and bad grammar everywhere. Proof-read your work!

The room descriptions were completely static. I would make things like the headache and reminiscing about the scent of nature events which happen when you enter the room for the first time, and use the room descriptions to 'paint a picture' in the viewer's mind. I want to feel like I'm in the cabin - what do the walls look like? What colors are the curtains? What furniture is there? Show, don't tell. One (and probably the only) place you did this well was the hardwood floor.

The directions should be given verbally. The map didn't make a lot of sense until I guessed a direction to go in.

The countdown mechanic was interesting but far too long.

The game lacks detail - the cabin was nowhere near big enough, or at least there wasn't enough to do/see in it.

The "good ending" is completely counterintuative.

The "bad ending" didn't make a lot of sense either. What motivation would the player have to do that?

You've got the start of something potentially interesting here. What you need to do is proof-read, refine, and spend much more time in designing your world - and use a better language to put it together.

Good luck with your future games!

J


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